Applied Drama and Theatre as an Interdisciplinary Field in the Context of HIV/AIDS in Africa

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Drama for Life, University of the Witwatersrand, aims to enhance the capacity of young people, theatre practitioners and their communities to take responsibility for the quality of their lives in the context of HIV and AIDS in Africa. We achieve this through participatory and experiential drama and theatre that is appropriate to current social realities but draws on the rich indigenous knowledge of African communities. Collected here is a representative set of research essays written to facilitate dialogue across disciplines on the role of drama and theatre in HIV/AIDS education, prevention, and rehabilitation. Reflections are offered on present praxis and the media, as well as on innovative research approaches in an interdisciplinary paradigm, along with HIV/AIDS education via performance poetry and other experimental methods such as participant-led workshops. Topics include: the call for a move away from the binaries of much critical pedagogy; a project, undertaken in Ghana and Malawi with people living with AIDS, to create and present theatre; the contradictions between global and local expectations of applied drama and theatre methodology, in relation to folk media, participation, and syncretism. Three case studies report on mapping as a creative device for playmaking; the methodology of Themba Interactive Theatre; and applying drama with women living with HIV in the Zandspruit Informal Settlement. The essays validate the importance of play in both energizing those in positions of hopelessness and enabling the distancing essential to observe one's situation and enable change. The book stimulates the ongoing investigation of current practice and extends an invitation to further develop innovative approaches.